10% of LFA students can’t return home

Max Ma and Baonghi Doan

14For international students at LFA, summer break has traditionally been the period to return to their home countries and reunite with their families and friends. However, this summer, according to Adam Gerber, Senior Associate Dean of Admission-Director of International Admission, approximately 40 out of a total of 115 international students can not return to their home country. 

Many students from China will struggle to return due to the newest wave of Covid-19 infections in China. To limit the spread of Covid, the Chinese government has undertaken a very strict path in terms of policy, making it very difficult for Chinese students to return. Travelers are required to complete multiple different types of tests within 7 days, 48 hours, 24 hours, and 12 hours before boarding a flight. Only by passing these tests can passengers obtain the boarding permission, also known as “green code.” Furthermore, China has strict restrictions on quarantine time. In most regions, a person has to be quarantined for 14 days in a hotel and another 7 to 14 days at home.

Another big challenge is booking tickets as there is a loading capacity restriction between China and U.S. flights. Christine Yin, a Junior from Beijing, China, shared, “It’s impossible to get a guaranteed plane ticket that will not get cancelled on top of being really difficult to be bought in the first place.”

Currently, one of the most highly affected regions in China is Shanghai. Lisa Zhou, a Sophomore from Shanghai, China, expressed that “Shanghai’s situation is terrible now. Almost all citizens are being locked in their houses due to the several quarantine restrictions set by the government. These restrictions are driving people crazy that even some committed suicide. Many of my friends in Shanghai are suffering through this harsh time.” Due to the pandemic situation, Zhou is planning to spend her summer in the U.S. instead of going back to China. Many students, regrettably, will have to opt for this kind of summer plan.

Besides China, students from Russia and Ukraine are having difficulty returning to their home countries due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. For Ukrainian students, it is not safe to return to Ukraine,and all the traveling options are cut off. Illia Slipchenko, an LFA Senior from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, shared his summer plan, “I’ll stay for a couple of weeks in Chicago, and then go to Europe to apply for a new Visa to come back to the U.S around July.” But he will not attempt to return to Ukraine.

For Russian students, the major concern is the limited number of flights and expensive ticket prices. Therefore, many Russian, or Ukrainian students, opt for staying in the U.S. When asked about summer plans, Kamal Nigmatullin, a senior from (city), Russia, shared that “My summer plan was to come back to Russia, but now that has changed. Because of what happened, there’s basically no flights to Russia now, so I will be staying with my family in California.” 

For those who cannot return, their summer plans include attending summer camp, staying with relatives or family friends, renting a house with classmates, or traveling. This might be fun for some, but the inability to reconnect with family and friends at home will be a hardship. With the changing situations in the world today, Gerber suggested, “if you are able to stay in the U.S, I will recommend it. Going back home, while it’s good for mental health, it adds variables.”